Amazing Audiobooks Nominations
Updated November 16, 2015
Amazing Audiobooks Nominations
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith, read by Kirby Heyborne. Tantor Audio, 2015. 7 hours; 6 discs. 9781494514099. Living in the shadow of his father's book, Finn Easton is trying to find his own story. Between epileptic blank outs - a souvenir from a childhood accident - and finding his doomed first love, Finn has a hard time seeing his path. Heyborne's angsty, discontented teen guy narration perfectly expresses Finn's frustration with the universe.
Accidental Highwayman, The by Ben Tripp, read by Steve West. Macmillan Audio, 2014. 10 hours; 9 discs. 978-1-4272-6038-3. After his master’s untimely death, Kit Bristol, after being mistaken for him, is caught up in his master’s missions and being chased by the law. West voices an impressive number of voices in this fun and engaging audiobook.
Alex Crow, The by Andrew Smith, read by MacLeod Andrews. Listening Library, 2015. 8 hours, 24 minutes; 7 discs. 978-1-1018-9083-7. Ariel, a newly adopted refugee, faces the daunting challenge of attending Camp Merrie-Seymour for Boys brother who doesn’t particularly like him. What follows is a tale of brotherly love, a psychotic bomber, a failed Arctic expedition, and the machinations of the secretive organization, Alex Crow. Andrews utilizes an impressive range of voices to intricately detail the humor, embarrassment, and discovery of this teenager’s life.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, read by Kirby Heyborne and Ariadne Meyers. Listening Library, 2015. 11 hours, 4 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-5535-5219-5. After Theodore “the freak” Finch talks down popular Violet Markey from the school bell tower, they team up for a school project wandering Indiana. Meyers’ authentic teen voice captures Violet’s fear and heartbreak; Heyborne voices Finch with such vibrancy it makes his descent all the more heartbreaking.
Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes, read by Caitlin Davies. Blackstone Audio, 2014. 6 hours, 15 minutes; 5 disks. 978-1483027975. Anika wants to keep her status as the third most popular girl at her Nebraska high school - even if it means keeping some pretty BIG secrets. This is a contemporary “coming of age” female drama that ends with a shocking tragedy.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, read by Neil Patrick Harris. Simon & Schuster, 2015. 8 minutes; 1 disc. 9781442386372. This delightful picture book is the true story of Roy and Silo, a pair of male chinstrap penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The audio performance by Neil Patrick Harris is both entertaining and engaging and is part of the 10th anniversary recognition of the book’s first printing;
Another Day by David Levithan, read by Kathleen McInerney. Listening Library, 2015. 9 hours, 28 minutes; 8 discs. 9781101916087. After the best day ever with her boyfriend, Rhiannon finds out that he wasn't exactly himself that day. A spirit that inhabits a new body each day was responsible and now Rhiannon has to decide if a life with A would be possible. McInerney shows the complexity of this story by bringing the same personality to all of the different voices that make up A's existence.
As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley, read by Jayne Entwistle. Listening Library, 2015. 10 hours, 47 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-4498-0761-4. Within minutes of arriving at her new Canadian school, Flavia is once again faced with an intriguing corpse and a unique set of possible suspects. Entwistle captures Flavia’s irrepressible vivacity and enlivens this delicious mystery with songs and other special touches throughout.
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, read by Dan Bittner. Harper Audio, 2015. 8 hours, 30 minutes; 7 discs. 978-1481533577. In small town Bone Gap, Illinois things are pretty quiet – unless you are the O’Sullivan boys. For Finn and Sean O’Sullivan it seems like people are always leaving them. First their father dies, then their mother runs away with an orthodontist and now… Roza is gone. This realistic fiction with some fantasy twists will definitely appeal to YA. Some sexual content.
Breakout by Kevin Emerson, read by Fred Berman. Listening Library, 2015. 6 hours, 53 min.; 6 discs. 9780553556148. When Anthony’s band is scheduled to be the highlight of his middle school evening concert he is not sure if the event will be a major success or his ultimate downfall - especially since his lyrics include a very noticable F-bomb. The audio includes not only realistic voices for its characters but also the music with lyrics.
Burning Nation by Trent Reedy, read by Andrew Eiden & Others. Scholastic Audio, 2015. 12 hours, 30 minutes; digital. 978-0-5457-8885-4. In this second title of the Divided We Fall trilogy, Danny Wright, former national guardsman, and his close-knit band of friends find themselves in the rebellion against the United States, fighting for Idaho’s freedom. Eiden portrays the protagonist very well in the action, drama, and tender moments while the multiple other voices add effective news, commentator and other broadcasting scenes, communicating the complexity of the situation.
Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell, read by Bianca Amato. Recorded Books, 2015. 6 hours, 20 minutes; 6 discs. 978-1-4906-6433-0. Wilhelmina “Wildcat” Silver is a unique character who is living wild on the land of her beloved Zimbabwe when she is shipped off to Leewood School for girls in England after her father dies. Amato imbues longing, desperation, and great heart in the voice of Wil, also providing the listener with authentic Afrikaan, Zimbabwean, South London, and other accents.
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman, read by Michael Curran-Dorsano. Harper Audio, 2015. 8 hours, 15 minutes. 9780062368041. Caden lives between two worlds - one where his parents and teachers are worried about him, and one where he’s a crew member on a pirate’s ship. He’s given impossible tasks in both lives, and soon finds himself torn between them. While this story is already extraordinary, Michael Curran-Dorsano takes the whole thing to the next level.
City of Savages by Lee Kelly, read by Cassandra Campbell, Rebecca Lowman, Joy Osmanski. Simon & Schuster, 2015. 11 hours, 50 minutes; 10 discs. 978-1-4423-7743-1. Sky and Phee Miller are sisters in a time after the Red Allies have taken over the world, and Manhattan has been turned into a POW camp. In this dual narrative by two very different girls, the three narrators provide a fast pace and deeply complex emotional rendition through the many twists and turns.
Cold Legacy, A by Megan Shepherd, read by Lucy Rayner. Harper Audio, 2015. 12 hours; 10 discs. 978-1-4815-3262-4. In this culmination of the Madman’s Daughter trilogy, Juliet Moreau is hiding out in the Scottish moors with fiancé Montgomery, friend Lucy, Edward who is deathly ill, and Balthazaar where they encounter all sorts of secrets and horrors. Lucy Rayner brings this gothic novel to life with her Scottish accents, multiple voices, and strong pacing.
Conspiracy of Us, The by Maggie Hall, read by Julia Whelan. Listening Library, 2015. 9 hours 34 min; 8 discs. 978-1101891308. Avery West’s life changes when she discovers that her estranged father’s family is rich, powerful and hiding a secret that could end the world. Julia Whelan voices Avery’s fear, loneliness and desperation in a way that grips the listener and makes it hard to turn off this fast paced thriller.
The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville, read by Katherine Kellgren. Listening Library, 2015. 12 hours, 46 minutes; 10 discs. 978-0-5535-5622-3. In this unique retelling of the Goldilocks story, the young enchanted bear Ursula lands her first work as governess to a young cub and a blonde human girl so terrified that she is now mute. They, along with the other enchanted creatures in their area, face increasing pressures from a powerful group of humans trying to repress the enchanteds. Kellgren’s incredible voicings of the human and animal characters, plus her strong singing, enhance the story into a true experience.
Crystal by Walter Dean Myers, read by Sisi Aisha Johnson. Recorded Books, 2015. 5 hours; 5 discs. 978-1-4703-9296-3. Sixteen-year-old African-American Crystal has the world at her feet. She’s been modeling for magazines, and now her career is set to ramp up quickly, increasing her chances of escaping her ghetto Brooklyn life. Trying to balance her new career with her school life—along with her new modeling companions and longtime friends—Crystal is forced to make adult decisions. She’s not sure if she can please everyone and still find her own happiness. Johnson deftly handles a variety of character voices, lifting the story beyond the written word.
Darkest Part of the Forest, The by Holly Black, read by Lauren Fortgang. Hachette Audio, 8 hours, 30 minutes; 8 discs. 978-1-4789-3295-6. In Fairfold, Maine, a town where fairies live amongst humans, Hazel and her brother Ben are drawn into fairy intrigues and the mystery of the release of faerie prince from his glass coffin. Fortgang’s excellent pacing and creepy voices for the fae makes this a fun listen.
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich, read by Charlotte Parry and Christian Coulson. Hachette Audio, 10 hours, 30 minutes; digital. 9781478959830. Carly and Kaitlyn live in the same body - one is conscious during the day, the other comes out at night. During their time at Elmbridge High School, strange things start happening and one of them goes missing. Parry and Coulson take this creepy story and turn it into a haunting and melodic tale.
Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin, read by Lance Rubin. Listening Library, 8 hours, 36 minutes; 8 discs. 978-0-5535-5601-8. Since he was young, Denton Little--like most people--has known when he would die, thanks to the blood test the government did at the time of his birth. Now, on the day before his deathdate, he finds his world turned upside-down as he tries to finish his life in the quiet manner he’d planned but instead must deal with the continual hilarious surprises thrown his way.
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan, read Mark Bramhall, David De Vries, Macleod Andrews, and Rebecca Soler. Scholastic, 2014. 10 hours, 22 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-545-78837-4. Children from different times and places are connected by a mysterious harmonica. Will their stories be enough to break a witch's curse? All the narrators complement the story with great pacing, and the musical accompaniments are dynamic and integral to the tale.
An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir, read by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West. Listening Library, 2015. 15 hours, 22 minutes. 978-1-101-89077-6. While spying for the Resistance in the Empire’s stronghold, Laia finds a surprising ally in Elias, a deadly warrior who has secrets of his own. Hardingham and West embody the vulnerability and gritty strength of both characters as they fight to survive amidst brutal tyranny and impending war.
Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong, read by Jennifer Ikeda. Harper Audio, 2015. 21 hours; digital. 9781481534505. When their village is destroyed and all of its children have been kidnapped, twin sisters Ashyn and Moria begin the dangerous mission to find the children and hopefully - prevent a deadly war within the empire. This is a captivating audio with both action and intrigue.
End of Days by Susan Ee, read by Caitlin Davies. Brilliance Audio, 2015. 8 hours, 40 minutes; 7 discs. 978-1-501-25193-1. Penryn and the other survivors of the apocalypse are forced to make a final stand against avenging angels. Davies excellent pacing makes for a compelling listen.
Fairest by Marissa Meyer, read by Rebecca Soler. Macmillan Audio, 2015. 6 hours, 30 minutes; 6 discs. 978-1-4272-5885-4. Previous books in the Lunar Chronicles series showed that Queen Levana of Luna wants to not just keep her crown, but extend her control over Earth, beginning with a marriage to Prince Kai. This book reveals Levana’s past and the events that have made her desperate to maintain her “glamour” of beauty and achieve her dreams of Empire. Soler is able to perfectly match the attitudes and thoughts of the characters.
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang, read by Julia Whelan. Harper Audio, 2014. 5 hours, 15 minutes; 5 discs. 978-1-4830-2808-8. Liz Emerson tried to kill herself in a car wreck. Near death, she is taken to the hospital. Via flashbacks and an unusual narrator, Liz’s life and her impact on others is revealed piece-by-piece in a non-chronological format. Whelan evokes the variety of emotions of a modern-day teen in a manner that keeps the listener intrigued.
Firefight, by Brandon Sanderson, read by McLeod Andrews. Brilliance Audio, 2015. 11 hours, 31 minutes; 1 MP3 disc. 978-1501227301. Having defeated Steelheart, Mitosis, and a host of other Epics, David and the rest of the Newcago crew have set their sights on the devastatingly powerful Epic, Regalia. Andrews’ masterful pacing will keep listeners on the edge of their seats, waiting to find out whether the Reckoner forces will triumph or fail.
The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler, read by Cassandra Morris. Listening Library, 2015. 8 hours, 42 min.; 7 discs. 9781101891124. Alice is twelve when she suddenly becomes an orphan and is sent to live with an elderly, eccentric uncle that she has never even heard about; will she ever again have a “normal” life and find out what really happened to her father? Morris’ vocal expression and unique voices will entertain audio fans.
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces, by Isabel Quintero, read by Kyla Garcia. Listening Library, 2015. 7 hours and 59 minutes; 7 discs. 978-1-1019-1703-9. Gabi Hernandez is in her senior year of high school and she poetically chronicles everything from her best friend Cindy's pregnancy, Sebastian's coming out, her mother constantly accusing her of being a bad girl, her father’s meth addiction and her own obsession with food. Kyla Garcia’s vocalization of Gabi makes her accessible in a way that text alone cannot and highlights the lyrical poetry found throughout the book.
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey, read by Julia Whelan. Listening Library, 2015. 9 hours, 56 min.; 8 discs. 9780553552331. When 7 year old Echo steals the wallet from another library patron, she has no idea that she has changed her life forever. Julia Whelan quickly captures the audience with her variety of voices and refined pacing.
The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons, read by Soneela Nankani. Recorded Books, 2015. 12 hours; 10 discs. 978-1-4906-5114-9. In a world where the men have enslaved women and carefully control their numbers, Aya has been raised free in the wilderness. Kept a prisoner for auction, Aya will do anything to escape. If only that strange mute boy didn’t watch her so carefully. Nankani deftly shares Aya’s plight and dreams of a better life.
Glass Sentence, The by S.E. Grove, read by Cassandra Campbell. Listening Library, 2015. 15 hours, 49 minutes; 13 discs. 978-1-101-89214-5. It’s 1891 and 13 year old Sophia Tim’s is used to the mix of time periods and bizarre creatures, so when her uncle is kidnapped, she sets off with an odd mix of friends to save him. Cassandra Campbell does a professional job, smoothly voicing an impressive range of characters, from Sophia’s sweet, soft, voice to the Lacrema’s sad sing-song voice, textual cues are picked up and amplified in this dramatic si-fi fantasy.
Golden Son by Pierce Brown, read by Tim Gerard Reynolds. Recorded Books, 2015. 19 hours; 16 discs. 978-1-4640-4212-6. Darrow’s mission continues as he seeks to bring down the society which enslaved him and other faceless billions. This is made all the more difficult when he finds some within the ruling class are not as evil as he has always believed, as feelings conflict with purpose. Reynolds’ wide range of voices and admirable adherence to textual cues makes the second volume of this trilogy a delight to hear.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman, Derek Jacobi, Robert Madge, Clare Corbett, Miriam Margolyes, Andrew Scott, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Emilia Fox, Reece Shearsmith, Lenny Henry, and an ensemble cast. Harper Audio, 2014. 8 hours, 24 minutes; 7 discs. 978-0-0623-6446-3. As the “Jacks of all trade” continue to seek after his life, Nobody Owens finds protection and power in the residents of a graveyard, but his lessons soon come to an end as he must face his past and live life away from the dead. Derek Jacobi and a full cast production bring new life to The Graveyard Book, combining outstanding, distinct narration with superb production that few audiobooks can match.
Guy in Real Life, by Steve Brezenoff, read by MacLeod Andrews and Arielle DeLisle. Harper Audio, 2014. 9 hours, 33 minutes; digital download. 978-1-4830-0451-8. Amidst an action-filled backdrop of gaming and role-playing, Lesh and Svetlana try to bridge the gap between their two radically different worlds. Andrews energizes the text with his colorful character voices, while DeLisle skillfully communicates Svetlana’s passion and determination.
Half Wild by Sally Green, read by Carl Prekopp. Listening Library, 2015. 9 hours, 30 minutes; 8 discs. 978-1-1018-9109-4. Nathan, a half white/half black witch, is determined to find his love, Annalise, while struggling with the gifts he received from his black witch father. Prekopp’s skillful pacing and intense narration make for a compelling listen.
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, read by Cherise Boothe, Shari Peele, Kevin R. Free, Avery Glymph, Patricia R. Floyd, Brian Hutchison, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Ezra Knight, Peter Jay Fernandez, Hubert Point-Du Jour and Korey Jackson. Recorded Books, 2015. 7 hours; 7 discs. 978-1-4906-6002-8. After African-American teenager Tariq Johnson is shot to death by a white man, members of the community relate what happened, often with conflicting points of view. This tragic and timely audio is enhanced by the full cast performance.
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, read by Mary Robinette Kowal. Scholastic Audio, 2015. 7 hours. 9780545839112. Libby and May became fast friends while creating the character Princess X. When Libby is killed in a freak car accident and stickers of their Princess X character start showing up everywhere, May knows that she has to follow the clues to solve her friend’s murder. The full sound effects and added text used for the graphic novel portions of this book are a bonus to an already epic story.
I Was Here by Gayle Forman, read by Jorjeana Marie. Listening Library, 2015. 8 hours; 7 discs. 978-0-5535-5610-0. After learning that her lifelong best friend, Meg, has committed suicide in a chillingly calculated way while away at college, Cody begins a journey searching for the truth about friendship, family, love, and hope. Marie boldly presents the complexity of grief and guilt Cody experiences while portraying supporting characters’ voices well.
Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry, read by January LaVoy. Listening Library, 2015. 3 hours 53 minutes, digital download. 978-0-1475-2-1835. Accompanied by a colorful, ragtag crew, Princess Leia embarks on a dangerous decoy mission while the Rebels prepare for the Battle of Endor. Authentic music and sound effects work together to create a soundscape that will convert any listener into a diehard Star Wars fan.
Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure, by Jason Fry, read by Jonathan Davis. Listening Library, 2015. 3 hours, 16 minutes. 9780147521873. Luke Skywalker, fresh from his destruction of the Imperial Force’s Death Star, wants to support the rebel alliance, headed by his new friend Princess Leia, yet also feels drawn to The Force and the jedi training he started under Obi-Wan Kenobi. The immersive experience, from the movie theme to the sounds of the robots, is sure to delight.
Killer Instinct, by S.E. Green, read by Emily Woo Zeller. Blackstone Audio, 2014. 5 hours, 30 minutes. 9781482987584. Lane’s fascination with serial killers becomes all too real when the infamous Decapitator comes to her hometown and sets his sights on Lane herself. Zeller’s versatility allows her to embody Lane’s chilly, out-of-sync nature while also keeping the momentum going with excellent pacing.
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs, read by Kirby Heyborne. Blackstone Audio, 2015. 14 hours, 54 minutes; digital download. 978-1-5046-3432-8. With time running short, Jacob must use his newfound Peculiar powers in order to rescue his friends and beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrine. Heyborne’s wide range of character voices and seamless incorporation of text cues and sound effects bring immediacy and color to this immensely popular book.
Lair of Dreams, by Libba Bray, read by January LaVoy. Listening Library, 2015. 20 hours, 13 minutes; 16 discs. 978-0-4498-0879-5. In the sparkling world of 1920’s New York, Evie, Sam, and the other Diviners are drawn into a gathering evil that is creeping into the dreams of unsuspecting sleepers. With haunting melodies and spot-on accents from the Louisiana bayou to Chinatown, LaVoy pulls out the stops for this stunning performance.
Magonia, by Maria Dahvana Headley, read by Thérèse Plummer and Michael Crouch. Harper Audio, 2015. 9 hours, 15 minutes. 9781481535052. Aza Ray has an odd life-threatening lung disease so unique that the illness has been named for her. Then one day she discovers the world of her birth--a place of the air--and the role she expected to play to ensure its survival. Both Plummer and Crouch express their characters and the blend of realism and fantasy in a beautiful way that makes listening a delight.
Mapmaker by Mark Bomback and Galaxy Craze, read by Erin Moon. Recorded Books, 2015. 7 hours, 15 min.; 6 discs.9781490666754. What starts out as a routine summer job to save money for college turns into a life or death adventure when Tanya finds clues to why her father died. Moon’s portrayal of the characters is accurate and engaging.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, read by R.J. Cyler, Thomas Mann and others (Keith Szarabajka, Hillary Huber, Kirby Heyborne, Abigail Revasch, and Adenrele Ojo). Listening Library, 2015. 6 hours, 9 minutes. 9780147520838. Greg, a high school senior, is drafted into befriending a girl with leukemia and eventually makes a bad film about her with his friend Earl. Members of the movie cast sprinkle personality and genuine emotion into a shockingly funny look at teenage life.
Mermaid’s Sister, The by Carrie Anne Noble, read by Kate Rudd. Brilliance Audio. 2015. 7 hours, 31 minutes; 7 discs. 9781501210174. On Llanfair Mountain, Clara and Maren have lived happily with Auntie until their 17th birthdays. When Maren begins to transform into her mermaid self, Clara and their best friend, O’Neill, must take Maren to the sea before she perishes. Kate Rudd provides wonderful consistent voicing of Clara, O’Neill, and diminishing Maren, along with other characters, dramatizing the yearning, loss, and pathos of the story.
A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger, read by Renata Friedman. Brilliance Audio, 2015. 6 hours, 45 minutes; 1 MP3 disc. 9781501200816. Whitley didn't know that a random hookup on graduation night would turn into the most humiliating event of her summer. Not only does Nathan turn out to be her new step-brother, he's also the one who shows her what a real family can be like. Friedman finds the right vibe for a girl who just wants to party her way through her last summer before college.
Mosquitoland by David Arnold, read by Phoebe Strole. Listening Library, 2015. 8 hours, 26 minutes. 9781101890912. When Mim Malone finds out that her mother is sick back in Ohio she steals a coffee can of cash from her stepmother, boards a northbound Greyhound and experiences interesting places, people and events that will change her forever. Phoebe Strole expertly voices Mim with all of her sarcasm and idealism, her insecurities over her mental state and emphasizes her love for unique people.
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga, read by Rebecca Lowman. Harper Audio, 2015. 8 hours, 15 minutes, 8 discs. 978-1481533089. Haunted by a horrible crime her father commits, Aysel Seran chooses to end her own life and partners with like-minded Roman after meeting him on a website for suicidal teens. Lowman’s earnest tone embodies Aysel perfectly and listeners are taken on a emotional journey.
Night Gardener, The by Jonathan Auxier, read by Beverley Crick. Recorded Books, 2015. 8 hours 45 min; 7 discs. 978-1490658780. Two Irish orphans, Molly and Kip are so desperate for work that they travel to England to work for the mysterious, cursed, Windsor family. Crick does an excellent job with the accents and with giving each character a distinct personality in this creepy horror novel.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, read by Macleod Andrews. Listening Library, 2015. 7 hours, 33 minutes; 6 discs. 9781101925362. Michael Pollan has dedicated his life to figuring out what is happening in the food industry. Through interviews and his own research, Pollan gives an account of his findings and what Americans can do to "vote with their forks." MacLeod's conversational tone gives this audiobook the personality of a well-crafted story.
Poe Estate, The by Polly Shulman, read by Jorjeana Marie. Listening Library, 2015. 6 hours 45 minutes; 6 discs. 978-1-1019-26192. In this charming adventure for young teens, third in the series of the New-York Circulating Materials Repository stories, Sukie learns about strange family history, friendship, and long-lost treasure with the help of her recently deceased sister’s ghost and new friends at the Repository. Marie voices Sukie with appropriately slow or mournful, sweet, and smart energy throughout, making this title an engaging listen.
Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay, ready by Julia Whelan. Tantor Audio, 2014. 11 hours; 9 discs. 978-1-4945-0589-9. Aurora must face a queen that has stolen her kingdom and kidnapped her brother using a power that carries the curse that she may never love with a prince that she can’t help but desire. Whelan seamlessly transitions between the characters’ voices and keeps the listener greatly anticipating the exciting conclusion.
Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz, read by Steve Kaplan. Scholastic Audio, 2015. 4 hours, 55 minutes; digital. 978-0-5459-2119-0. Yanek Gruener faces the worst of the Holocaust as a teenager, being interned at 10 concentration camps and learning one thing: to survive. Kaplan’s portrayal of Yanek and his German guards captures the listener’s attention immediately and the brings the horrors he faced, unfortunately, to reality.
Red Rising, by Pierce Brown, read by Timothy Gerard Reynolds. Recorded Books, 2014. 16 hours. 978-1-4640-4215-7. A senseless act of brutality changes Darrow’s life forever, and now he has the chance to take down the ruling class that has so long oppressed and terrorized his people. Reynolds brings forth the raw pain and devastation that threatens to consume Darrow as he embarks on his harrowing and perilous journey.
Scan, by Walter Jury and Sarah Fine, read by Luke Daniels. Dreamscape Media, 2014. 8 hours, 16 minutes; 7 discs. 978-1-6292-3716-9. Tate learns that an alien race has invaded Earth, and he alone may hold the key to the survival of all humankind. Daniels’ careful attention to text cues invigorates the story, and his impeccable pacing drives this non-stop thriller to its exciting climax.
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy, read by Cassandra Campbell and Kirby Heyborne. Harper Audio, 2014. 556 minutes, digital edition. 978-1482992533. Using ‘Now’ and ‘Then’ perspectives, Alice and Harvey tell the story of Alice’s battle with cancer and her efforts to reclaim life. Campbell and Heyborne work together to bring out both Harvey’s genuine kindness and what few likeable traits there are to Alice in this unconventional cancer story.
Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, read by Mandy Williams, W. Morgan Sheppard. Listening Library, 2015. 18 hours, 9 minutes. 15 discs. 978-0307968968. In this companion to Hartman’s first book Seraphina, half-dragon ityasaari must come together to prevent war and Seraphina needs to overcome personal barriers in order to defeat tricky Jannoula, saving everyone she loves. Williams impressively voices a myriad of characters with such expression that the listener feels involved and invested in this epic fantasy.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli, read by Michael Crouch. Harper Audio, 2015. 6 hours, 45 minutes; digital download. 978-1-5046-1513-6. When an email to his secret, maybe-almost boyfriend is intercepted, Simon is thrust on a heart-breaking, yet hysterical journey of self-discovery. Crouch authentically voices Simon in all of his neurotic, hopeful, witty glory, while also conveying the unique personalities of the novel’s secondary characters.
The Sin-Eater's Daughter, by Melinda Salisbury, read by Amy Shiels. Scholastic Audio, 2015. 9 hours, 5 minutes; 9 discs. 978-0-5458-3831-3. Revered and feared as the realm's divine executioner, Twylla discovers dangerous secrets that could bring the country to its knees. Shiels communicates the menace of Twylla's enemies and the taut tension that propels this story to its shocking conclusion.
Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, by April Genevieve Tucholke, read by Macleod Andrews, Emma Bering, Robbie Daymond, Nora Hunter, Jorjeana Marie, and Julia Whelan, 2015. 13 hours, 13 minutes; 11 discs. 978-1-101-91746-6. This collection of 14 short stories explores the demented, psychological, and grim tales of the teenage world. A full cast of narrators gives a distinct identity to each of the characters and will make the listener think twice before reading in the dark.
Star Wars: So You Want to be a Jedi?, by Adam Gidwitz, read by Marc Thompson. Listening Library, 2015. 4 hours, 48 minutes; 4 discs. 978-1101892053. Adam Gidwitz has written a lighthearted, self help style manual, that retells the second film in the classic original trilogy specifically for younger readers who might want to become a Jedi one day. Marc Thompson and the production team wow listeners with a movie like rendition, spot on voices and sound effects.
Stella by Starlight, by Sharon M. Draper, read by Heather Alicia Simms. Audioworks, 2015. 6 hours, 30 minutes; 6 discs. 978-1-4423-8039-4. When 11 year old Stella and her brother Jojo see the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross, her small, depression-era, segregated, town of Bumblebee has to pull together and face the scary possibility that they are no longer safe. Heather Alicia Simms imbues the text with spirit and draws listeners into a warm, inspirational story taking place during a difficult era of our nation’s history.
Stellow Project, The, by Shari Becker, read by Kate Rudd. Brilliance Audio, 2015. 9 hours, 41 minutes; 8 discs. 978-1-5012-4757-6. Sickly Lilah Stellow and her sister leave New York City for the family cabin to avoid a violent storm only to find that the storm and her health problems may be man made. Rudd’s dynamic performance keeps listeners engaged throughout.
Still Waters, by Ash Parsons, read by Nick Cordero. Recorded Books, 2015. 8 hours, 9 minutes; 7 discs. 978-1-4906-5150-7. When golden-boy Michael offers to pay Jason to hang out with him it seems like an ideal opportunity to earn the money that Jason needs to get his sister and himself away from his abusive father. Nick Cordero’s voice is gritty and imperfect but adeptly captures the essence of the dark, brooding Jason.
Stitching Snow by R.C. Lewis, read by Mia Barron. Recorded Books, 2014. 9 hours, 30 minutes; 8 discs. 978-1-4906-3278-0. Essie has been living for years on the mining planet, Thanda, developing worker robots to make the miners’ lives easier, and trying to prove she’s not just a pretty face. When a spaceship crash lands and she meets the young pilot, Dane, she is forced to confront her past life as Princess Snow and the reasons for her escape from that life eight years earlier. Barron’s sense of the characters and personalities of the story makes this fantasy take on the well known Snow White story seem refreshingly new.
Survival Guide to Bullying, The: Written by a Teen by Aija Mayrock, read by Aija Mayrock. Blackstone Audio, 2015. 3 hours. 978-1-5046-1176-3. This straight talk about bullying and how to survive to get through to the other side is authentic, practical, and life-giving because of Mayrock’s own experience of being bullied from elementary school to high school. In her own voice, the author expresses truths and tips with energy and honest empathy.
Tales from a Not-So-Dorky Drama Queen by Rachel Renee Russell, read by Jenni Barber. Audioworks (Simon & Schuster), 2015. 3 hours; 3 discs. 9781442370234. When you are 14, the new girl at school, and maybe… a little dorky, you will sometimes have more bad days than good ones. Jenni Barker’s performance makes listeners feel like you are back in middle school.
The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond, read by Richard Halverson. Brilliance Audio, 2015. 8 hours, 31 minutes; 7 discs. 9781501215919. Dominic Hall has been raised in a quiet shipbuilding community in Northern England, but he's not sure he fits into the rough mold of the people there. After his mother's death, Dom has to decide what sort of person he is going to be and how his life is going to play out. Halverson's narration hits the right notes of urgency and desperation in a kid trying make sense of his world.
Trollhunters by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus, read by Kirby Heyborne. Recorded Books, 2015. 10 hours, 15 minutes; 9 discs. 978-1-4906-9432-0. Newly minted trollhunter Jim Sturges joins a motley group of humans and trolls in a desperate battle to defend the human world against a terrifying troll king. Heyborne doesn’t hold back when narrating this action-packed tale, demonstrating his astonishing ability to communicate an array of grunts, groans, and other spine-chilling monster noises.
The Truth Commission by Susan Juby, read by Kate Rudd. Brilliance Audio, 2015. 7 hours, 38 minutes; 6 discs. 978-1-5012-3026-4. When Normandy Pale and her fellow artists create their own Truth Commission, they discover that while truth-telling can be liberating, it carries a dark side as well. Rudd captures Normandy’s fast-talking, fast-thinking self with personality, wry humor, and raw emotion.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, read by Edward Herrmann. Listening Library, 2014. 8 hours, 8 minutes; 7 discs. 978-0-5533-9711-6. Louis Zamperini’s plane crashes in the Pacific Ocean during World War II, and, despite all odds, he manages to survive being a castaway, captivity, experimentation in a torture camp, and assault by brutal guards in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Herrmann’s strong, smooth cadence illuminates the text and brings the listener both excitement and dread in this incredible biography.
Under Different Stars by Amy Bartol, read by Kate Rudd. Brilliance Audio, 2015. 9 hours, 58 minutes; 9 discs. 9781501217067. Kriket has seen the worst of the foster care system in Chicago and is almost old enough to be on her own. Life has been hard, but things get even more complicated when teams of burly men show up to take her back to her home world - which she didn't know existed. Rudd brings out the emotion and humor in this story by giving careful attention to the original text.
Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten, read by Jonathan McClain. Listening Library, 2015. 7 hours, 34 minutes; 6 discs. 978-0-553-55634-6. Adam, aka Batman, struggles to prevent his obsessive-compulsive behavior from taking over his life while also providing a foundation for his hoarder mother and crazy little brother. Add in a prospective love, Robyn, and even the cape crusader may lose this battle. McCalin smoothly articulates a wide range of voices and flawlessly captures the awkwardness, earnestness, and desperation of an unlikely, teenage superhero.
Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quick. Hachette Audio, 2015. 9 hours; 9 discs. 978-1478955849. Sophronia Temminick, a student at Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, helps fellow student Sidheag return to her werewolf pack in Scotland. Quick’s lively pacing and diverse and unique voices make for a delightful listen.
Watched by C.J. Lyons, read by Luke Daniels. Brilliance Audio, 2014. 7 hours, 36 minutes; 7 discs. 9781469269962. Jesse has been living in fear for years - ever since King started blackmailing him and making demands that are impossible to ignore. When he receives a letter in the mail from someone who is willing to help, Jesse must weigh the consequences of going against his online tormentor. Daniels gives a truthful performance of the panic and helplessness of a teen in this situation.
We Are All Made of Molecules, by Susin Nielsen, read by Jesse Bernstein and Jorjeana Marie. Listening Library, 2015. 5 hours, 45 minutes; 5 discs. 978-0-5535-5630-8. When geeky Stewart and his dad move in with It Girl Ashley and her mom, both teens are shocked to discover that they have more in common than they thought. With an authentic teen voice, Marie communicates Ashley’s anguish and worry, while Bernstein’s Stewart is perfectly awkward, yet engaging.
We Should Hang Out Sometime, by Josh Sundquist, read by Josh Sundquist. Hachette Audio, 2015. 6 hours, digital download. 978-1-4789-3156-0. In this awkward and funny memoir, Sundquist recounts disastrous tales of failed romance, intent on discovering what went wrong and why. Sundquist relates his stories with such animation and familiarity that listeners will feel that he is speaking directly to them.
Web, The by Megan Chance read by Karen Peakes. Brilliance Audio, 2015. 9 hours, 11 minutes; 8 discs. 9781501240881. Grace is caught between the interests of the Fomori and Fianna, Irish mythological warriors fighting for her to join their side. Peakes’ accomplished narration captures Grace’s plucky spirit and confusion as she figures out where her loyalties lie.
What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe, read by Wil Wheaton. Blackstone Audio, 2014. 6 hours, 36 minutes; digital. 978-1-4830-3018-0. Randall Munroe, creator of the webcomic xkcd, answers increasingly weird and absurd questions from across the internet in a serious, scientific manner...usually. Wheaton’s smooth cadence provides an enjoyable listening experience and holds one’s attention until the end.
While We Run by Karen Healey. read by Bernard Setaro Clark. Hachette Audio, 2014. 9 hours, 30 minutes; digital. 978-1-4789-0-2706. In this thought-provoking science fiction sequel to When We Wake, in the year 2128, teen Tegan Oglietti is the first successfully revived cryonics patient, and Abdi Taalib is her sidekick; together, they escape out of captivity and are running for their lives. Bernard Setaro Clark uses a gallant, emotive Somalian accent to draw us into Abdi’s thoughts while he also voices Australian Tegan and others with convincing nuances.
Wild Rover No More: Being the Last Recorded Account of the Life & Times of Jacky Faber by L.A. Meyer, read by Katherine Kellgren. Listen and Live Audio, Inc., 2015. 11 hours; 9 discs. 978193166656. After years of adventure and intrigue, Jacky's story is coming to a close. But not before she finds herself working as a governess and then as a circus performer - all while avoiding the local authorities who want to string her up. Katherine Kellgren takes on each new persona with a flourish and voices every character and action masterfully.